Charity is not a luxury. Yet it is. It shouldn’t be an entitlement. Yet many people view it as such. I am not rubbishing charity and charitable acts. Quite the opposite.

My friends and I run an initiative to make CBO’s more visible online. This would enable well-wishers and donors to give to the right people and through a more direct channel. Not only monetary giving but also time, skills and any other resources that would be beneficial to make a CBO a self-sustaining entity. This initiative is called “Design to Transform”.

We had a bitter-sweet experience last Friday. In an effort to gather content from some CBO’s for our next Hackathon, we visited four CBO’s with no success of a photograph. Or any useful content. At one of the CBOs, our contact person expected us to give her money. She was simply saying “I want you to help me but you have to give me money for me to let you help me”.  Makes you wonder about who is benefiting more from this arrangement.

I worry that in an effort the make these CBO’s self-sustaining they may end up relying heavily on donor aid and forget to invest in programs and activities that would make them self- sustaining. They approach these relationships without consideration of the long term impact. I am hoping LIVELUVO, our new sponsor will help us ensure these institutions become self-sustaining. I will post an update on the progress. Get the LIVELUVO app to ensure you don’t miss.

This reminds me of a guy whom I once met who works with an NGO. He mentioned that our outfit would easily come off as another NGO with a savior mentality. Fortunately, his NGO gets donor funding to carry out its mandate. So much in a day’s work. Charity is here to stay. There is no stopping the philanthropic among us from giving. So why not use it to implement sustainable projects. I know we need people to administer the funds to ensure they are used as intended but does it have to be ten people doing exactly the same thing?

Just last week, a  lady we were working with as a lead to a CBO’s called our team leader and asked him what kind of car we were going with. Could we send her some money to give to the people on the ground? What was she getting in return for doing this? When he told me this I felt like I was biting into a fermented mango. My face is very expressive, he thought I was about to puke. I was very disappointed. We do not need donor money to get by but here it is. When you make money and invest it in a project that brings in an income however little. Then you are slowly cutting the ropes of poverty. It’s like my dad always tells me, “poverty is a cycle and unless someone breaks it, then you remain poor.” Unless you grow your own cotton, spin it and make material to make your own clothes do not rubbish charity, donor funding or well-wishers. We all need a helping hand to get where we are going. Yes we do not need charity to get us out of our poverty cycle but now that it is accessible why not use it to do exactly that and in a sustainable way?

Did you know most hospitals are registered as NGO’s at Kenya Revenue Authority and yet you could pay with your life (pun intended), when you fall ill? I understand how NGO’s pass off as the savior but there are some that are really committed in their work. So let’s not judge every one of them against the ills of the others. I neither own an NGO nor work in one just in case you are wondering.

Charity is not a luxury. Sometimes I wish I had the luxury to be as charitable as can be without my wells running dry. People give for various reasons. For ego boost. For political mileage. Because they have too much. I support and encourage every kind of giving because at the end of the day someone benefits from the action. The giving that truly touches a life is the one where you give expecting nothing in return. Not even a thank you.

That reminds me.  I gave sweets to some kids in Kibera on Thursday and demanded a thank you from all of them.  Either, I taught them how to be grateful or, I’m just an asshole for expecting a thank you.